The total number of coronavirus cases in Africa topped 2.5 million on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally, as a second wave of infections hits the continent.
Countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Mauritania, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have seen a sharp increase in cases and are reporting near-record infection levels, according to a Reuters tally.
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Swift measures, including travel restrictions and border closures, allowed African countries to limit the spread when the first cases were reported in March. But the economic impact of the measures prompted governments to reduce them.
As people let go of their guards and abandon social distancing measures, infections have increased.
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According to a Reuters analysis, Africa has reported around 454,000 new cases in the past 30 days, nearly 18% of its total of 2.5 million cases.
South Africa remains the most affected African country with 912,477 cases and 24,539 deaths. The country has seen a sharp rise in infections since the start of December.
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The South African government said on Friday it had identified a new variant of the coronavirus which is causing a second wave of infections.
Governments in the region are imposing lockdowns, curfews and restricting gatherings before Christmas celebrations.
Nigeria on Friday ordered schools to close indefinitely, banned concerts, carnivals and street parties, and ordered some officials to work from home in its commercial capital, Lagos.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo announced a curfew and other measures, including the mandatory wearing of masks in public spaces.
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As developed countries like the US and UK begin to vaccinate their populations, most of the poorest African countries rely on the World Health Organization’s COVAX program, which aims to deliver at least two billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021.
However, according to a Reuters report this week, the system faces a “very high” risk of failure, potentially leaving countries that host billions of people without access to vaccines until 2024, according to internal documents.
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